4513.0 - Criminal Courts, Australia, 2011-12 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 14/02/2013   
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Contents >> Magistrates' Courts >> Defendants Finalised - Method of Finalisation - Magistrates' Courts


Charges withdrawn by the prosecution

Defendants finalised through charges being withdrawn by the prosecution increased by 11% from 38,923 in 2010-11 to 43,295 in 2011-12, despite the number of finalised defendants decreasing by 2% over this period. Of all finalised defendants, 8% of defendants had their charges withdrawn, a slightly higher proportion than in 2010-11.

During 2011-12, the following offences had the largest proportion of defendants finalised through the withdrawal of charges by the prosecution:
  • robbery and extortion (23% or 422 defendants);
  • sexual assault (20% or 764 defendants); and
  • homicide (19% or 84 defendants).

South Australia (23%) and the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory (both 22%) had larger proportions of defendants whose charges were withdrawn than the national average (8%). Tasmania had the smallest proportion of defendants whose charges were withdrawn, at 1%.

Defendants acquitted

In 2011-12, 15,387 or 3% of defendants finalised were acquitted in the Magistrates' Courts in Australia.

Five offence categories made up 80% of all acquitted defendants:
  • traffic and vehicle regulatory offences (31% or 4,721 defendants);
  • acts intended to cause injury (28% or 4,361 defendants);
  • public order offences (10% or 1,488 defendants);
  • theft (7% or 1,107 defendants); and
  • offences against justice (6% or 965 defendants).

Graph Image for DEFENDANTS ACQUITTED, Magistrates Courts, Selected principal offence

The proportions of defendants acquitted varied across the states and territories with the largest proportions in Tasmania (13%) and New South Wales and Victoria (both 5%) and the smallest in South Australia (less than 1%).

Defendants proven guilty

The proven guilty population comprises defendants who plead guilty or were found guilty, including those found guilty ex-parte (refer to the Glossary for further information).

Defendants proven guilty in the Magistrates' Courts accounted for 451,786 (86%) of defendants finalised in 2011-12. This proportion has remained relatively stable since 2005-06.

Almost all defendants finalised for dangerous or negligent acts endangering persons (92%) and public order offences and traffic offences (both 91%) were proven guilty.

The proportion of defendants proven guilty, of all finalised defendants, ranged from 94% in Western Australia and 91% in Queensland to 64% in the Australian Capital Territory.

Graph Image for DEFENDANTS PROVEN GUILTY, Magistrates' Courts, States and territories

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